#Before30BucketList: Learn Astronomy

(First, go to this post if you don’t know what my #Before30BucketList is. I’ll also be going back to that original post and noting each goal accomplished if you want to keep up but miss out on some of my posts.)

I was worried about this one. I didn’t even think twice about adding it to my list when I saw it recommended on another, but I had no idea how I was going to go about it. I can’t afford to take college classes right now, nor would any astronomy class count toward my degree in teaching high school English, and I absolutely didn’t have the time to randomly research stuff online — and even if I did, what stuff?

I tried finding free or cheap classes at my beloved libraries but was disappointed. Then, an awakening.

I don’t know if you have this where you’re from, or if you shop at ACME, but for a few months they were doing some Monopoly game in which you collected pieces earned from certain purchases and along with the pieces came either a coupon or a chance to win more stuff online. I hated it, because it took up a lot of freaking time setting it all up and figuring out which pieces I had or needed and which coupons I wanted and if I cared enough to try my luck online. But then I found one with a free online cooking course from Rouxbe (which I’m currently still taking, and since “Learn To Cook” is on my list, you’ll read about it soon enough).

Realizing that if they had online cooking courses, they probably had online anything courses, and if ACME Monopoly was giving them away for free I could probably find other deals. So I went to Groupon, and I was not let down.

I found an Introduction to Astronomy course from International Open Academy for $5. If you go to their webpage classes are around $100-$200. Do not do this. If you want to take any of their classes, check Groupon. I don’t know if you’ve heard of International Open Academy, but they act like they’re super accredited and your certificate of completion will be accepted by fucking NASA and the CIA, but odds are it won’t even be accepted by your community college or 5-employee company.

Nonetheless, I’m not doing this stuff to become a genius and land a 6-figure job. If I wanted to do that, I know I would have to spend more than $5. I’m doing this for myself and for simple I-like-to-learn-stuff purposes, so to me it was worth it.

There’s all sorts of funny-business that you should know if you do decide to take one of these classes. Read the fine print. You have a certain amount of time to redeem the groupon, then you have a certain amount of time to start the class once you enroll, then you have a certain amount of time to finish the class once you start. I think Astronomy was 45 days or something. I finished in about 4.

Given, I did spent all of my time at the computer taking notes and tests (yes, they have real graded tests but you can look at your notes — or google — so they’re not really that difficult). It wasn’t the most I’ve ever applied myself, but it also wasn’t the least. I did try to remember as much as I could and I wrote everything important down so I can always access it later if my memory fails me.

It was basic, elementary astronomy. I read a review where someone said you learn all this stuff in middle school. However, I’ve been out of grade school for 12 years and can’t even remember what I learned that last year, let alone way back to sciencey stuff I wasn’t interested in back then. So I did learn a lot.

For instance, you know how they got rid of our beloved Pluto? Well, it turns out they just downgraded him to a dwarf planet, of which we have several others in our solar system.

They’ve discovered other Earth-like planets in other solar systems. You can see certain planets with the naked eye, others with binoculars, and others with telescopes. Meteor showers often happen yearly.

Those are just the simple, easily-remembered things I learned. They went into further detail about the moon and stars and constellations, comets and meteors and meteorites and asteroids. There’s so much out there, and common folk like me look up and the sky and think we know nothing about the beyond, but really we know quite a bit. We just need to take the time to learn it.

So overall I was very pleased with my Intro to Astronomy Course. It may not be college-worthy and I definitely won’t be on my way to becoming an astronomer simply because I took it, but it opened my mind to more possibilities and happenings all around us. I look forward to using the binoculars my mom’s friend gave me to search the sky for things I’ve never thought about before. I’m excited to re-read my notes and put some of my new findings into action. Another list item is to watch a meteor shower, and now I have a much better understanding of what exactly they are and when/where to see them.

Also I have a fancy certificate, even though it doesn’t mean anything.


Companions: My notebook & pen & computer & the sky & binoculars

Course: $5
Binoculars: Courtesy of Mom’s friend
(Also my husband complaining that I ignored him for this class.)

Goal Total: $5

8th Goal Accomplished
List Item #30: Learn Astronomy
On 4-20-2017

Bucket List Total: $158

#Before30BucketList Preparation and Assistance

Okay so this is only part of a post. A preface, if you will.

Obviously you should know by now that I’ve been working on my #Before30BucketList. One of the things coming up on my calendar is to “Complete a 5k / Walk for Charity”. Another is to “Throw a Fundraiser”.

I’ve gone and gotten myself all signed up for The Color Run in Philly on June 25th. I have a few friends coming along (as long as they sign up, ahem!) so we’re all working together. We’ll be walking, of course, because who runs? (Don’t answer that.) We’ll be jumping and sliding and having a ball getting color blasted all up in that muhfuhka. But we’re also trying to raise money for The Color Run’s partner this year, Back On My Feet.

color run

Our team for the Color Run is called “Color Run Padawans” (I haven’t quite figured out a way to link to our team, I don’t know if they even have team pages) and our fundraiser is “Padawans Color Running for ‘Back On My Feet’“.

We’d love for you to join us. Whether by running walking alongside us, cheering us on, donating even a small amount to our fundraiser, or even just sharing and spreading the message. The Color Run is all about happiness and community and Back On My Feet is all about giving second chances and helping. What’s not to like?? (Plus my #Before30BucketList fits in perfectly).


So just wanted to put this out there. This is a #Before30BucketList preparation in which you can help, if you feel like it. Of course, I’ll update you once I’ve completed the goals — but I do need some help for at least one of them.

“Do Good” — George Feeny

#Before30BucketList: Learn To Dance

(First, go to this post if you don’t know what my #Before30BucketList is. I’ll also be going back to that and noting each goal accomplished and maybe adding or editing some items, if you want to keep up but miss out on some of my posts.)

I may have cheated on this one a little bit. I should probably retitle it “Take A Dance Class” but I don’t feel like it and this is my list so I’m allowing certain liberties. Especially life-got-in-the-way-because-I’m-taking-on-too-much liberties.

I really have no rhythm and can’t dance very well and actually don’t dance at all unless I’m drunk, so I decided that I’ll never learn to simply dance and that I should take a dancing class instead. I found some near me at dance studios for those fancy dances like ballroom dancing and Tango and stuff but they were expensive so again, my handy-dandy free library classes saved me.

I found a free line dancing class and got super excited because if you don’t remember this from my Rock Out At A Concert post, I was raised country and am still country in my soul and used to dance the two-step around my living room table 24/7 when I was young.

I tried to find a cowboy hat or boots to wear to my first class but I seem to have lost everything once important to me and held on to everything meaningless, so I just went looking like my normal self (aka in my Star Wars PJs and skater shoes).

When I got there I was pretty surprised to find literally everyone over 60-years-old. The instructor looked to be about 80. But damn, was she feisty. Everyone else caught on faster than I did and she didn’t hide the fact that she got frustrated with me several times. But once I was doing well, she made sure to let me know and was always very nice when we weren’t dancing.

We learned random line dances, not the popular kind you’ll find on YouTube (I tried). She called them the “Mambo”, “Disco”, “Hip-Hop”, “Waltz”, and “Cha-Cha”. They sound like normal dances, but those she actually taught us are nowhere to be found on the internet. She said she gets bored with the same old dances over and over again so she looked up new ones, but I don’t know where.

I was the best at “Hip-Hop”. Of course I would be. It involved swaying your hips and doing lots of crossovers and used all four walls. I enjoyed it because we danced to both country and actual hip-hop, and it was interesting to apply the dance to different songs and styles of music because one was faster than the other. Interestingly, all of the participants preferred to dance to the hip-hop song, I think because it just seemed to flow a little better.

Dancing is a workout, in case you didn’t know. I got pretty excited about attending this class because it also worked its way into my “Start A Workout Routine” item. I was sweaty by the end of each hour, when the instructor made her announcements about balance classes and donating peanut butter and getting your blood pressure checked. I remember the very first day, at the end of class, when she said “If you’re not going to be here next week, please let me know” and looked directly at me. I held eye contact and replied “You’re not getting rid of me, now.” Everyone laughed.

I, unfortunately, missed the first two classes because I hadn’t even found out about them until the third, and then the last two because I had to work (more on that later, since “Get A Job” is another list item). Originally I had planned on getting my mom to come take pictures and videos of me in the class, but that never happened so I don’t really have any proof that I did, in fact, learn to dance (a few dances).

Also my brain’s a little foggy today so I apologize if this post isn’t as witty and adventure-filled as the others. I promise this class was the highlight of my week for a while.

I also planned on doing belly dancing, but that class was at night and cost $15 a week and just didn’t seem to fit into my schedule so I had to cancel that, too. However, I plan to take every opportunity to learn more dance moves I come across.


Here’s a picture of me dressed up as Madonna pretending to perform, which is kind of the same thing as dancing (or at least the only picture of me that came close to dancing). I didn’t want you to feel left out with no photos and all, but now I realize you might be scarred. Sorry.

Companions: Adorable older classmates, hilarious dance instructor.

Class: Free
Gas & Tolls: $14

Goal Total: $14

7th Goal Accomplished
List Item #33: Learn To Dance
On 04-20-2017

Bucket List Total: $153

#Before30BucketList: Learn A DIY Craft

(First, go to this post if you don’t know what my #Before30BucketList is. I’ll also be going back to that original post and noting each goal accomplished if you want to keep up but miss out on some of my posts.)

Right around when I was first making my list, my mom invited me to go to her Mindfulness Class with her, which was held at her local library every Monday — for free. I didn’t put it on my list because it wasn’t really something I was going to follow up on, but I did go (because this is not only my #Before30BucketList year but also my “Yes Year” aka my “Year of Experiences” in which I try to say yes to everything and do as much as possible and probably kill myself in the process).

Anyway, it worked out perfectly that I was figuring out my goals at this time because when I read them to my mom and worried about how I was going to afford and/or find everything she pointed out that all of our local libraries hold all different kinds of free classes. So I spent way too much time looking up every class offered in all of my county and the neighboring county (because I live literally on the edge of the two) and wrote down anything I might be interested in or that would apply to my list.

Originally I found two classes that could count as “Learn A DIY Craft” and I was considering making this one my “Take A How-To Class” but the second crafting class was canceled so here we are. I may have skimped a bit because it was only one class and I didn’t really learn a lot about the craft, but I did complete two projects and plan to follow up on my own to learn more.

The class was origami, which I’ve always been interested in but never really pursued. When I got there they asked me if I’d ever done origami before and I said no but halfway through class I remembered that back in middle school we used to make cootie catchers basically every day and I used that memory to turn them into programs for my wedding, and I designed, printed, cut, and folded all 80 by myself (rarely anyone even took one).


These are the cootie catcher wedding programs, not what I did in the origami class.

So I did remember a few things that I learned along my wedding-prep route, like folding twice (once on each side) made things easier and how to best align the paper so you got even folds. That doesn’t mean I was an expert, however. More than once the other women in class asked me to help them because I’m impatient and kept going ahead without instructions and looked like I knew what I was doing, then ended up being wrong and having to help them undo what I had previously done and redo it the right way once I got the hang of it.

There’s not really too much to say about this class. It was fun and the instructor had been a kindergarten teacher so she dealt with us rebels well. I’ve noticed in my free class-taking time that the majority of people like to goof off and not take themselves too seriously. There were also snacks and drinks and the whole atmosphere was wonderful, so I rather enjoyed myself.


If you can’t tell which one I am, well, you need to come around more often.

I got the hang of things pretty well and made a super awesome basket, which I still have in my room holding various knick-knacks I refuse to move into another room but also don’t know what the hell to do with. Originally we were told we’d be making two baskets but we were so goofy about the first one that we had about 5 minutes left to make the second one. I insisted that I could stay if anyone else could, so most of us hung around to make the second. That’s when everyone learned I lived 20 minutes away and couldn’t believe I drove that far but then kept inviting me to other classes so I don’t know what was going on in their heads.


I gave the top one to my friend for her birthday because I’m poor and kept the bottom one for my crap.

At the end of the day I felt successful productive and inspired to teach myself more Origami, so I do believe it was a success.


**EDIT — I bought an at-home origami kit from 5Below the other day and have been doing all sorts of creative animals. I’ll update with pictures when I feel I’ve finished, but for now I just wanted to add that in and change some of the specifics at the bottom.

Companions: Group of Older Women also Taking the Class, No-good instruction manual

Class: Free
Gas: $5
Tolls: Courtesy of Dad
Materials: Included

At-home Kit: $5

Goal Total: $10

6th Goal Accomplished
List Item #63: Learn A DIY Craft
On 4-6-2017

Bucket List Total: $139

#Before30BucketList: Get Lost On Purpose In An Unfamiliar Place

(First, go to this post if you don’t know what my #Before30BucketList is. I’ll also be going back to that original post and noting each goal accomplished if you want to keep up but miss out on some of my posts.)

This one goes along with my Travel Alone and Meet Favorite Author goals, as they were all accomplished in the same trip on the same day (yay me for such great coordination!).

If you haven’t read about those experiences, you can check them out in the links above. Otherwise, I’ll make it short and sweet: I traveled to NYC by myself, then met Augusten Burroughs on his book tour.

Once the book signing was over I realized I had over two hours left until I had to get my car from the parking garage, and since the book store was only a few blocks from Central Park I decided to check it out.

I literally know nothing about Central Park, except that it’s in New York and sometimes actors do “Shakespeare In The Park” there (or is that only in movies?). So I just walked in its general direction and when I got to it I wasn’t sure it was really it so I wearily crossed the street and simply stood looking at the entrance for a few minutes trying to figure out whether I should go in or look somewhere else.

But then I went in and found out it was, indeed, Central Park.


I saw this sign but didn’t really pay close attention because I just wanted to explore. Upon further inspection, it didn’t tell me anything anyway.

So I went in and there was a random road in the middle and I was worried I wasn’t in the right place again but then I remembered (from movies) that you could drive through Central Park so I kept walking and had to decide between taking a path or some steps, so I went up the steps and came to a random building where a bunch of joggers were either jogging or resting and I looked so obviously lost but I didn’t want any of them to notice me because I was supposed to be lost so I just kept walking towards things that interested me, like this giant body of water which I thought was really cool at first but then as I kept walking my husband called me and I told him “I’m in Central Park. I think. I’m on this path that looks like it just circles a body of water. Is that all Central Park is? I was thinking about going all the way around but now it’s pretty boring” and then I hung up because he wasn’t supposed to be bothering me during my getting-lost experience.


This was my view from one side of the path circling the giant body of water.

I kept walking along the path for a while and was pleased to find that there were other paths leading away from the water so I wouldn’t have to circle it the whole time. I came across small bridges and rocky steps and darkened paths and jogging trails. There were signs telling me which part of the park I was in but that didn’t equate to anything in my mind so I basically ignored them. I just kept going in the most interesting directions. My husband called me again and I told him to leave me alone but he said he was worried because apparently people get raped and murdered in Central Park all the time, so I told him not to worry because the only people I had come across were joggers and he said exactly, he was always hearing about joggers getting attacked so I reminded him that I was safe because I was definitely not doing any jogging. Then he got the hint to stop calling me, but then I found a dead body.


This wasn’t really a dead body but you never know for sure, there could have been one in there somewhere.

I can’t even really explain exploring Central Park alone at night in the off-season. Everything was calming yet exhilarating all at once. I finally came across some non-joggers, including a suspicious guy having a heated discussion on his cell phone, at for a moment I thought he might kill me because he seemed to start paying closer attention to me when I veered off down a creepy dark path, but then he veered off another creepy dark path so maybe he was planning some ritual of sorts and wanted to be left alone, too.


My creepy path, not his.

The other non-joggers were dog walkers. I only made note of a few of them: an older gay couple walking their two (what seemed to be) greyhounds who had red light-up collars that I thought were pretty cool, and they were well-behaved and stopped to inspect things now and then but never really cared about other dogs or people and always kept up with their humans — the humans had the same mentality and acted like everyone around them was invisible; a mother and son walking their one feisty and happy collie-looking dog who was really into inspecting everything and never listened to them — I loved the dog but I overheard the son ask the mom something about why I was wandering around looking lost and taking pictures and she kind of scoffed like I was trash because I was so obviously a tourist; and finally an adorable gentleman with an adorable terrier who had a single green light on his collar and also didn’t listen well but instead of running around all crazy-like he just sat in his preferred patch of grass and didn’t move when his owner kept calling him — they were my favorite. None of the dogs were on leashes which made me wonder if this was the norm in NY (or at least Central Park), because where I come from it’s basically a sin akin to murder if you don’t leash your dog, or if they were just taking their chances because it wasn’t busy yet.

Then I came across a freaking castle and took pictures of it from all directions and tried to find the best route to it but none of them worked so I just kept going down random trails until I thought I was far away but ended up looking up at it.


This was my view from the closed Turtle Pond, when I first fell in love with the castle.

Apparently it’s called Belvedere Castle which I didn’t even know until I had gotten home and shown my mom the pictures and she asked me “Why is there a castle in Central Park?” and so I looked it up. Now I think I’m going to name my next pet Belvedere because I really like it, and my next pet is going to be a rabbit and for some reason Belvedere reminds me of Velveteen? Anyway, that’s off topic.

I climbed up the steps to the castle and there was so much to take in but I only took pictures to prove I was there instead of getting all the other cool stuff..



After I explored the outside of the castle I found another building which seemed promising at first but upon closer inspection seemed to be just a workers’ building or something, but behind that was the Shakespeare Garden and this really beautiful area that had scary, unstable steps and a swift (fenced) ledge and I think that was my favorite place because it was the most dangerous. The rock-steps informed me (with a sign) that they could be icy but it was pretty nice out that day so I took my chances.


No ice, just some other-ways-to-die.

I didn’t find anyone acting out Shakespeare or anything at all, really, but I figured this was an experience not many people get because most would probably visit in the on-season and during the day so they could see everything open and working and up-to-date and in all its glory, but it was pretty damn glorious to see it all shut down and closed and frayed and dismantled without the annoyance of a thousand other people on their lunch break or family vacation or drug run.

I was using my phone as a camera but had everything else disabled so I wouldn’t know where I was or what was going on in the world around me because I was supposed to be lost and alone, dammit, but once it got to 10% and 9:15pm I realized that I had 15 minutes to get back to my car and honestly had no idea where I was, so I did use my GPS to find my way out of Central Park and back to the parking garage. But that doesn’t count because I still did get lost somewhere unfamiliar, I just didn’t stay lost. That would be really dangerous anyway considering I had given all of my snacks to the homeless dog and her person (read Travel Alone for that story).

I wasn’t tired at all on the drive home — instead I felt quite refreshed, having washed away all of my real-world nags and responsibilities and familiarities. I was able to clear my mind and simply not worry about where or who or what (and only slightly when).

I’d very much recommend this to anyone. Even having every single part of my body ache for the next two days because I’m so out of shape was beyond worth it. (Also it made me realize I need to exercise more to prepare for my next visit, which is now on the list.)


This is me with a random Central Park bush/tree or something. I dunno, I look cute.

Companions: Camera, random joggers & dog walkers

$0 (Just my throbbing body the days following)

Goal Total: $0

5th Goal Accomplished
List Item #71: Get Lost On Purpose In An Unfamiliar Place
On 3-27-2017

Bucket List Total: $124